Thank you for continuing to follow my blog. It's hard to believe that my readers have stayed with me for nearly two years. Feels like just yesterday I sat down, my hands shaking, feeling prompted by the Spirit to start this blog and let others know they are not alone in their experience with same-sex attraction as Latter-Day Saints. Today, I wish to discuss how I've personally come to terms with my SSA, and how this simple, yet powerful tool has blessed my life tremendously. To some, it may seem as though I am asking people to dismiss, repress, or otherwise ignore their feelings. However, that isn't the message I am striving to convey. My message today is one of believing in personal willpower to use all the freedom available to you in your journey with same-sex attraction. Although some feelings, tendencies, attractions, etc. lie far beyond our control, I firmly believe that God has given us sufficient freedom - the power to carry out our agency - to experience SSA in a gospel-centered, peaceful way.
So, what is my tool I use? Simple. Whenever I experience same-sex attraction towards anyone, I acknowledge its existence, but I refuse to give it attention and energy. That way, I am validating that I certainly do feel that way about someone. Yes, that guy is probably hot, or most definitely I have a crush on that friend...but the question is, do I focus on that, or can I divert that emotional and/or sexual energy elsewhere? Because to be quite frank, I don't believe that Heavenly Father created me to be at the mercy of my same-sex attraction. I believe He understands that it is something I cannot help feeling, that is true. However, I also believe He has given me power to change my perspective, actions, and feelings towards those attractions. Some of you are probably thinking or saying, "So what? How's that going to change anything? It doesn't have any way of making this experience any easier, at all!" I can most definitely empathize and sympathize with where you're at. I used to feel exactly the same way. I realize, however, in hindsight that this is because I used to direct exorbitant amounts of my attention and energy towards this attraction. It became all-consuming to me, to the point of near obsession at times. The question first, then, is not, "How can I change my perspective", but rather, "How can I change my desire for a new perspective?"
If you don't have a desire to do something, you likely will not try unless something creates a motivation. Let's explore what motivation you may have for desiring self-acceptance in regards to your SSA. Here are a few personal ones of mine that may apply to you:
1. The inner conflict of feeling shame, confusion, guilt, anxiety over marriage and family, and other negative emotions didn't create anything but misery for me. I wanted that to end.
2. My relationship with my Savior has suffered because I've given into certain addictions in the past, because I couldn't reconcile these feelings with my faith, thus creating a great deal of pain.
3. Other relationships in my life suffered, most notably among my family and friends, whom I love dearly and only wish happiness and fulfillment for. This also took away from my happiness.
4. I struggled more with issues often associated with unresolved same-sex attraction, including unhealthy physical affection (i.e., excessive or forced), codependency, needy/clingy behavior, and so forth. This drove potential friends away, which caused a great deal of unnecessary heartache.
And the list continues on and on...
Does any of this sound familiar? If I'm not mistaken, a great portion of the SSA community in the Church struggles with these issues or other issues that make their life a HUGE struggle! What's more, when the people in this group focus constantly on SSA as though it's some kind of fatal disease to be cured immediately, it creates issues. Why? Because when you frequently think about something, it starts to affect your feelings, behavior, and lifestyle. That's the pattern that people follow in either finding peace or falling away from the Church. It starts with thoughts of faith or fear, moves into feelings of desire for wisdom or pride directed towards God, followed by a pattern of behavior throughout their lives that reflects whichever path they've taken. Every path doesn't look like that, but I would not feel ignorant to say that most, if not all paths are a reflection of it. To be quite honest, the people whom I see struggling the most are those who make SSA who they are, versus something they experience. They permit it to define them. Every single person who apostatizes follows the path of allowing SSA to define themselves; every person who stays faithful defines their SSA within gospel standards, and views it as a part of themselves to be accepted in faith. More on this and other principles in my next post...love you guys!!!